John Saunders, one of ESPN’s longest-tenured and most accomplished commentators, has reached a new multi-year agreement with ESPN, it was announced by Mark Gross, ESPN senior vice president, production and remote events. Saunders, who joined ESPN in 1986, will continue to appear on college football studio coverage, including anchoring regular-season Saturdays on ABC alongside Mack Brown and Mark May, and a hosting role on the College Football Playoff on ESPN. He will also call play-by-play on select college basketball games and will remain host of The Sports Reporters.
“John has done it all during his exceptional career,” Gross said. “Fans have become accustomed to his smooth and informative approach, and we are thrilled he will build upon his amazing run at ESPN.”
Saunders added, “I’m closing in on 40 years as a sportscaster, during which time I’ve covered or hosted The World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup Finals, NBA Finals, College Football title games and the Final Four. But I am most proud of the 28 plus years I’ve spent as part of our family here at ESPN. Bob (Ley), Boomer (Chris Berman) and I all started on SportsCenter, and the three of us are coming up on a combined 101 years at ESPN. How many places can say that? This is home.”
Since joining ESPN as a SportsCenter anchor, Saunders has hosted and/or provided play-by-play for a variety of sports – college football, college basketball, NHL, NBA, MLB, WNBA and more. In his role, he has traveled to many of the top sporting events, anchoring on-site coverage.
A former colleague and close friend of the late Jim Valvano, Saunders was a founding member and serves on the board of directors for The V Foundation for Cancer Research, and is actively involved in many of the organization’s fundraising events and initiatives.
He came to ESPN from WMAR-TV in Baltimore, where he had worked since 1982 as an anchor of three daily sports reports. He also hosted the Baltimore Orioles pre-game program Orioles on Deck and provided analysis for Baltimore Colts preseason games.
Saunders, a native Canadian, called play-by-play for the Toronto Raptors on CKVR-TV and CITY-TV (1995-2001). He was the main sports anchor for CITY-TV in Toronto from 1980-82 as well as ATV News in New Brunswick (1979-80) and CKNY-TV in Ontario (1978-79). In 1978, he was the news director for CKNS Radio in Espanola, Ontario.
An all-star defenseman in the Montreal junior leagues, Saunders received a scholarship and played hockey at Western Michigan from 1974-76. He then transferred to Ryerson Polytechnical in Toronto, where he was an all-star on the Ontario University Athletic Association.
While attending school, Saunders provided news reports for CHOO-Radio in Ajax, Ontario, and continued to play hockey. Saunders’ brother, Bernie, played left wing for the Quebec Nordiques in the NHL from 1979-1981.